When Mary Gibson was born, much of the United States didn’t own a car or have an outhouse. The Great Depression hadn’t happened yet, nor had World War II—or World War I.
Gibson was born in 1909, and she has outlived nearly everyone of that era. A Jersey City resident, she celebrated her 105th birthday at the Sunflower Medical Adult Day Care Center on Broadway in Bayonne, where she goes from Monday through Friday.
On June 6, Gibson’s daughters Loretta Lee and Barbara McDonald of Jersey City were by her side as she was honored with a celebration complete with songs, two dozen roses, and a birthday cake.
Legally blind, but in good overall health, Gibson has been coming to the facility for almost 10 years, enjoying the food, games, company, and gossip each day.
She is still quite active, going to church every Sunday, and having her hair and nails done every week. She still attends virtually all family functions, including parties, cookouts, and dinners. Family reunions in Virginia, North and South Carolinas, Michigan, and Disney Word were no problem.
“She’s amazing, she’s absolutely amazing.” – Jamie Ryan
“She said, “That’s the only way to go,” Lee said.
Gibson, a native of Clio, S.C., requires only a walker when out and about. At home, she doesn’t even use one. Gibson has always been a walker.
“When they asked her the secret of her longevity, she said hard work and keep moving,” her daughters said.
“She’s very quiet, but she likes to run with her walker,” said Sunflower administrator Jamie Ryan. “Sometimes we have to chase her. She likes to get up and go.”
On this day of celebration, teacher Elena Troianiello and her third grade class at Midtown Community School showed their respect for Gibson by singing “Happy Birthday” to her.
“We come by each year to spread a little sunshine to the seniors,” Troianiello said.
“I enjoyed the children,” Gibson said.
Sunflower activities director Diane Najdzin went through a litany of events that had occurred during Gibson’s lifetime and ended her presentation with praise.
“You deserve a standing ovation, an honor, a salute,” she said. “You have done more in a lifetime than most can ever dream of.”
Gibson is the proud matriarch of a large family. She has 14 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, and one great, great grandchild.
A full life
Gibson worked as an assembler for Emerson television and radio for many years before retiring.
Following that, she went to school for tailoring, which she did for another 10 years as a second career. Gibson was married once; her husband died in 1975. She has outlived two of her five children.
Not one to live in the past, Gibson knows what the internet and email are.
Smiling whenever her food comes at the center, Gibson still lives her life to the fullest.
“She’s amazing, she’s absolutely amazing,” said Ryan.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.